Sunday, March 29, 2009

“ ”

Several months ago, I added a small feature to Pam's Pages— famous (or not so famous) quotations. Actually, I have no control over these. They change daily and are put on the site by one of the now common services available to web masters and bloggers. I have enjoyed seeing the quotes that pop up, and sometimes I jump onto my blog, just to see the latest quote. Above my "links" section, I have a general quotation, and below them, I have the "funny quote."

This one, which struck me as quite true to human nature, appeared recently—

Passion is the mob of the man, that commits a riot upon his reason.
—William Penn

Do return to Pam's Pages for additional quotes, links to other blogs of interest, and news about books and other media.


Sunday, March 22, 2009


What will the future hold for mankind? Building has stalled in our community, for the most part, but this would seem to be a temporary situation. As each generation comes of age and needs living space, land which was once farmland is lost for that purpose. At some point, terra firma must be preserved as a breadbasket.

If that is so, where will future folks live? The image above is one possibility. At some point, mankind will have to expand, and the moon is the closest piece of real estate in the solar system.

Grand Master Robert Heinlein was among the sci fi writers who speculated that the lunar landscape will one day be home to people. His novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, is among the best of his work. Written some fifty years ago, this novel is pure Heinlein, with plot, science, characterization, and politics intertwined. Mannie and his computer friend, Mike, an artificial intelligence which predates most such inventions, are both entertaining and realistic. Some science fiction writers are optimists, seeing the future as a time when mankind finally outgrows its faults, Others see darkness, when in an effort to make a better world, the human condition deteriorates. Heinlein wisely avoids either extreme, but he does not see humanity as remaining static, either. In fact, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is, at its core, a novel about revolution.

As a fan and as a writer, I see mankind inching forward, forever dragging the baggage associated with our beloved imperfections. Still, I do believe that man will continue to build, somewhere, somehow.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Breaking News—

I am interrupting my more or less weekly schedule of blog entries to share a link to another blog, at Sci Fi Dimensions. This is a wonderful source of news, reviews, and other matters relating to the genre. I love it, even if they were not interested in reviewing Trinity on Tylos (and they weren't.) I just read a bit of news about a television channel there, along with their take on it.

Here's the link—

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Books

I tend to shy away from big books— not big words, which I rather like, but big books. Since mom recommended Gone With the Wind, which I put off until the lazy days of summer after my eighth grade year, I have had a love/hate relationship with big books. As a youngster, I didn’t want to commit myself to the 1066 pages of GWTW, but once I got into it, I was glad that mom had insisted. Indeed, I wanted to read more fiction by Margaret Mitchell and was disappointed when I learned that she did not publish any other novels.

While I was in college, I read Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance, which was so long that the publisher divided into it two volumes. That, along with The Winds of War, taught me more about WWII than all of my history classes combined and remains on my “keeper” shelf. Bigger books can contain more ideas and more entertainment, so I do sometimes tackle a big book.

Science fiction authors often write a series of novels set in the same universe, and publishers, in hopes of attracting new readers, will package those books together in an omnibus edition, which often means a really big book.

I mentioned one of my favorite omnibus editions, Cordelia’s Honor, in a couple of previous entries. This single volume contains the two early novels in Lois McMaster Bujold’s award winning Vorkosigan series, and is still in print. Very few writer’s have as much to offer as Bujold does— her characterization, her world building, and her prose combine into very satisfying books. Cordelia’s Honor is a great place to begin reading her work.

Another omnibus published by Bean books is The Planet Pirates. I read this one some years ago, because I have enjoyed books by Elizabeth Moon and Anne McCaffrey. Although I managed to get through the entire big book, this book suffers from too many cooks in the authorial kitchen. Oh, and the cover is especially ugly. Fans of the authors (and there are three) will enjoy it, however.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have written numerous volumes together, and the omnibus edition of their Liaden trilogy, Partners in Necessity, goes together quite nicely. Putting their books into a pigeon hole isn’t easy. While set in another universe, this series is more about characters and their relationships with each other. I enjoyed this big book quite a lot, so I’ll call it science fiction romance, but that doesn’t quite describe it either.

Currently I am reading The Complete Ivory, which is an omnibus of a trilogy by Doris Egan. Thus far, it reminds me of Lee and Miller’s work— not a space opera, but a romantic comedy set in another universe. While not a “page turner” there is enough world building and sufficiently engaging characters to keep me making steady progress through these 896 pages.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009


Parallel is a neat word, with multiple meanings in mathematics, gymnastics, and in literature. The very idea that ideas can be alike, yet different, is intriguing. I’ve often enjoyed works with parallels, such as the fable, Animal Farm, which is the tale of animals rebelling in England, but closely parallels happenings in Russia, beginning with the Bolshevik revolution and ending with events which happened during World War II.

I just finished, and I say that with a bit of pride because it was difficult, Parallel Attraction by Deidre Knight. Having heard Ms. Knight speak at a writer’s conference, in her role as literary agent rather than as a writer, I wanted to like this debut novel. As I struggled to make it through the chaos of the time travel plot, I checked out the reviews on Amazon. Some of them were glowing, especially those by her clients and fellow authors. But others, by readers, gave it one or two stars, and I tend to agree with some of their comments. The opening of the novel works well enough, and Knight’s prose is quite good overall, although she sometimes does some odd phrasing, such as, “ he barked something at a group of engineers out in the breezeway who had been working on one of his fighter planes when they’d stridden in.” More troubling was the plot/peril sequence, which was a confusing time travel sequence. The hero wasn’t particularly heroic, nor was the villain particularly villainous, which is a greater flaw. Also, there was very little romance in this romance novel, because the main characters became “mated” with almost no build up, and the characterization seemed to be more driven by introducing minor characters to become main characters in subsequent novels in the series.

Recently, the proprietor of a used book store told me that one can judge a book by its price used. As I write this, Parallel Attraction can be purchased via Amazon for one penny, plus shipping, from fifteen vendors, and for under a dollar from seven more. Perhaps that says more than all of those glowing reviews from Deidre’s colleagues.

I will no doubt revisit Animal Farm, with its entertaining parallels with both history and human behavior, and I hope that Deidre Knight does succeed in writing a great romance, since she seems to be such a nice person.

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